Thursday, March 29, 2007
CONSERVATIVE JEWISH SEMINARY TO ACCEPT HOMOSEXUALS
New York, NY, March 26, 2007 — Following the completion of a thorough and deliberate review process, The Jewish Theological Seminary has decided, effective immediately, to accept qualified gay and lesbian students into its rabbinical and cantorial schools.
The decision comes three months after the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly approved a teshuva (responsum), permitting the ordination of gays and lesbians, thereby paving the way for JTS to consider the issue.
Immediately after these rulings were announced, JTS initiated a comprehensive process in which the views of a wide range of constituencies were solicited and seriously weighed, and likely consequences considered.
The process included faculty forums, student discussions with faculty and administration, meetings and/or lengthy discussions with the heads of the other Conservative Movement seminaries, consultation with the JTS Board of Trustees, and an international survey of Conservative rabbis, cantors, educators, lay leaders, and JTS students on the question. In addition, Chancellor-elect Arnold M. Eisen personally heard from hundreds of Conservative Jews on the matter during his travels around the country this year and through correspondence, email, and the JTS website.
"The immediate issue was the ordination of gay and lesbian students as rabbis and cantors for the Conservative Movement. But the larger issue has been how we can remain true to our tradition in general and to halakhah in particular while staying fully responsive to and immersed in our society and culture. How shall we learn Torah, live Torah, teach Torah in this time and place? Without these imperatives, the decision before us would have been far easier for many of those involved. That is certainly true for me," stated Chancellor-elect Eisen.
He continued, "I believe, along with the great majority of my colleagues on the JTS faculty, that the CJLS, by voting in equal numbers for two teshuvot, provided halakhic authorization for the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbinical and cantorial students. That permission having been given, I believe that the nature of our communities in contemporary America, the moral convictions we hold, and the mission of JTS, argue strongly for accepting gay and lesbian students for ordination.